Rodgers limited to handoffs

The injured quarterback will have his right (throwing) shoulder re-examined on Friday to determine whether he can play on Sunday against Atlanta. Even though he will be limited at practice, coach Mike McCarthy says he will give Rodgers "every chance to play."

On Monday, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday's practice would be an important test for quarterback Aaron Rodgers' sprained shoulder.

On Wednesday, Rodgers was limited to handoffs, with rookies Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm doing the throwing as the Packers began preparations for Sunday's suddenly important game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Asked what reporters and fans can read out of Rodgers' non-throwing practice, McCarthy said: "You can read it just how I'm going to read it. I'm going to wait to Friday," to see the results of Friday's re-examination by team doctors and trainers.

McCarthy said Rodgers wouldn't throw during practice on Thursday, either. Rodgers' shoulder, injured while trying to lunge for a first down at the end of a third-quarter scramble at Tampa Bay, will be examined again on Friday to determine his availability for that morning's practice.

"The pain is something I feel like I can deal with," Rodgers said. "It's the strength. If I don't have the strength to be able to make the throws I know I'm capable of making, it doesn't really matter how much pain. But if I have the strength, I feel like I can deal with the pain."

McCarthy wouldn't rule out Rodgers playing even without practicing all week, but also hinted there's at least a decent chance seventh-round pick Flynn would get the call this week against the Falcons at Lambeau Field.

"I know he's young and there may be concern about him missing practice reps, but I'm going to give him every chance to play in the game against Atlanta," McCarthy said.

But, he added later, the team will keep the big picture in mind and "be smart" with their blossoming young quarterback.

"We're not going to do anything crazy," McCarthy said. "I'm not going to ask any player to put himself in harm's way for one game, especially early in the year."

McCarthy said Rodgers has been progressing every day this week, an assessment Rodgers agrees with based on his sleep. Because of the pain in the shoulder – not to mention the pain of losing – Rodgers said he slept "horrible" on Sunday night, but did better on Monday night and better still on Tuesday night.

"I'm hoping to play, for sure," he said. "I've got to listen to my body and the trainers, but I've definitely made some good progress since Sunday."

Rodgers acknowledged Friday is a key day if he is to start a fifth consecutive game. While the game plan is installed on Wednesday and Thursday, Rodgers will prepare mentally like he will be the starter. With Friday being the last practice of the week, being able to throw in something approximating a game situation would be vital and would make sure he's comfortable with the scheme.

"Friday will be important if I can practice, because that's kind of like a broad display of all the stuff we practiced Wednesday, Thursday," Rodgers said. "We do our red zone, we do our short yardage, we do our third down, we do our normal down-and-distance. So, that will hit every category."

If Rodgers can't play or can't make it through the game, Flynn would take his place, though McCarthy said he'll get second-round pick Brohm ready, too. Flynn was a backup at LSU for three seasons, playing in 15 games, including coming off the bench when JaMarcus Russell went down in the 2005 Southeastern Conference championship game.

"It's a little different because I got reps today in practice, but the mental preparation is the same," Flynn said. "I'll watch the same amount of film. Like I said, I've prepared every week like I was going to prepare, and it's no different this week." Meanwhile, Brett Favre's ever-present shadow remains. On the afternoon when Rodgers sustained the injury, Favre threw six touchdown passes while running his consecutive-starts streak to 257 games.

So, the obvious question is, does Rodgers feel pressure to start on Sunday just because of what his predecessor accomplished?

"It has no bearing on this season at all. I want to play because I want to play. That's it."

Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com


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